You’ll find the Green Tortoise on Broadway in San Francisco, in the North Beach neighborhood not far from the TransAmerica Pyramid. This is a pretty good location, with North Beach right in front of you, and Chinatown, Nob Hill, the water and Embarcadero within easy walks, and a couple of bus lines that can hook you up with the MUNI and BART trains in a fairly short ride. It does put you right in the heart of the seedy part of North Beach though, with strip clubs literally surrounding you, and at the focal point of attention of drunkard jerk out-of-towners who cruise in to PARTAAAY WOOOOOO every Friday and Saturday night. Whether this is a bonus or not is up to you.
The hostel itself sort of focuses on extreme sociability, late-night partying and sort of a hippie, weed-smoking culture (read more about the cultural diversity) so if you want a quiet bed for the night, this is totally the wrong choice. If you want to hit a beer bong (or real bong), however, and possibly hook up with some loose backpacker types then this is definitely first on your list of San Francisco hostels.
I don’t mean to knock the hostel in that regard, just to realistically prepare people for what it is. Like the Green Tortoise travel bus service they provide, the focus is basically young people with cash to fritter away partying. That’s what you should expect. If you want a quieter hostel nearby check out the HI in Fort Mason over by Fisherman’s Wharf.
Amenities are better here than what you usually get for the price. The staff usually preps a free dinner for everyone, there’s a “continental breakfast” of bagels, muffins, fruit, coffee and tea included with the price, and the under-bed lockers they provide for storage are larger than many of the in-room lockers at other hostels in the city (some of which can’t accommodate a standard backpacker-sized backpack.) Oh, they got a free pool table in-house too.
Dorm beds are 30 bucks per night here during the tourist season (May to October) and 25 bucks per night during the off season (November to April). Up until a year or so ago they were 17 bucks per night most of the year, which made this one of the cheapest hostels in the city, but not so anymore – their rates are up there with HI now. They also have private rooms in a separate building, at 60 bucks per night during the off-season and 70 bucks per night during the summer. $20 deposit required in all cases.
The price used to be a big draw in spite of the general noise level, now not so much anymore. Private rooms are about as low as you’ll get for a by-the-night rate in this part of San Francisco, though, so you might look into that. As far as the dorms go, definitely be willing to not get a full night of sleep, but that may be the sort of thing you are looking for.
The Green Tortoise Backpackers Hostel
San Francisco, CA 94133